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Tower Hamlets Labour calls for action on fire safety

At a Full Council meeting earlier this month, Tower Hamlets councillors adopted a Labour amendment calling on the government to increase funding for its building safety fund to fix cladding issues on private sector tall buildings.

The Labour Group also called on government to publish a database of affected buildings and to streamline access to the building safety fund as many residents are struggling to apply to the scheme because of a complicated application process.

The council is calling on the government to expand the funding available to deal with these issues rather than leaving it to home-owners to foot the bill for failures in regulation. Currently, many homeowners face enormous financial bills because of the prospect of having to fund remediation works themselves.

After Mayor Biggs was elected, he commissioned a review of fire safety in council-owned blocks and the council invested over £6m over three years. Following the Grenfell fire, further checks were carried out.

A new report out this month – from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee – called on the Government to ‘recommit to the principle that leaseholders should not pay anything towards the cost of remediating historical building safety defects’, however the Government’s recent Spending Review did not allocate any new funding to remove unsafe cladding from high rise buildings.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “We all have a responsibility to ensure that the dreadful events of the Grenfell fire do not happen again. This is why it’s vital for the government to increase its building safety fund so that works can be undertaken as soon as possible without causing financial ruin to those living in the affected buildings.

“It can’t be right for homeowners to foot the bill for failures in regulation, and I agree with the Housing Select Committee that leaseholders shouldn’t face these bills.”

Cllr Sirajul Islam, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing said: “Tower Hamlets has more tall buildings than anywhere else in the country so fire remediation is a key priority for the council. I’m pleased that members agreed that we should investigate ways for the council to provide support to residents who are understandably worried about their safety and financial futures.”

Cllr Eve McQuillan, Cabinet Member leading on Planning, said: “I’m glad that these proposals have been agreed on a cross-party basis and that there’s recognition that the Government must do more in order to address these serious issues. We welcome the Government’s Hackitt review and will lobby for changes to building regulations, particularly fire safety regulations, to be as robust as possible.”